So now we know that the perpetrators of the Boston Marathon bombings were Muslim ‘jihadists’ after all – or at least they thought they were. And law enforcement officials, the media and assorted experts and terrorologists are engaging in the familiar post-atrocity search for an explanation and a motive.
Were they ‘self-radicalized lone wolves’ who planned and prepared the whole ghastly spectacle by themselves? Or were they ‘radicalized’ by foreigners or by some charismatic evil influence, such as the ‘mysterious radical’ known as ‘Misha’, who Tamerlane Tsarnaev’s uncle in Maryland now says ‘ ‘steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam’?
These distinctions matter, and not only because of the entirely logical impulse to try and understand what would lead two young Chechen refugees with reasonably promising futures in their adopted country would perpetrate an act of ‘terrorism’ with ‘weapons of mass destruction’ – as pressure cooker bombs with nails and shrapnel are now somewhat bizarrely categorised.
After all, we’ve just seen an entire city shut down and placed under curfew in a search for one wounded teenager – and this in a country where young men with guns commit murder virtually on a daily basis without any such response – and these developments may well be the shape of things to come.
Predictably, the ‘counter-jihad’ movement has seized on the bombings, with Pamela Geller’s American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) unveiling what her cohort Robert Spencer calls a new programme for ‘defending free societies.‘
This programme, according to AFDI’s ‘executive director’ ie. Geller, calls for the recognition that
‘Islam in its mainstream theological formulations and its dominant form throughout its history, not “extremist Islam” or “hijacked Islam” or “Islamism,” but Islam in the Qur’an and Sunnah as understood by Islamic jurists and theologians, can and should be regarded as an author’itarian and supremacist political system as well as a religion, and thus that Muslim groups should be subject to all the scrutiny and legal requirements of political organizations, without being able to shield their political activities behind the protection of religious freedom.’
So there you are: it’s Islam’s fault again, and what we need is no Islam – or at least an Islam under lock and key. Thus the AFDI’s prescriptions for ‘defending free societies’ includes profiling of Muslims at airports, ‘ surveillance of of mosques and regular inspections of mosques in the U.S. and other non-Muslim nations to look for pro-violence materials’, ‘ curriculum and Islam-related materials in textbooks and museums to describe the Islamic doctrine and history accurately, including its violent doctrines and 1,400-year war against unbelievers’.
Geller and her fellow ‘human rights activists’ also want ‘ an end to the ‘crippling rules of engagement under which our soldiers are forced to labor’ in order to give them ‘the freedom to defend themselves and protect their comrades.’
How nobly patriotic. In fact American soldiers have been killing quite a lot of Muslims over the last decade with the rules of engagement that they already have, but not enough for La Geller, it seems.
Let’s be clear here: the idea that these proposals have anything to do with ‘human rights’ or ‘free societies’ is a delusion, a fantasy and a lie; what Geller, Spencer are talking about is victimization, repression, unlimited violence and something that will look a lot like fascism – if it ever gets off the ground. And they are using the Boston atrocity as just one more pretext to promote that agenda.
Geller and her cohorts are always eager to link any of these events to ‘Islam’ – or at least their version of it. But even the few details that have emerged so far reveal nothing of the kind. According to a written statement from the younger brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the bombings were a response to the ‘US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq’.
This explanation suggests another form of ‘blowback’ from the terrorwars of the last decade – which isn’t the same thing as saying that murdering Americans at an athletics race it is some kind of logical or legitimate response to them, let alone that the Tsarnaevs reflect a mainstream Muslim consensus.
On the contrary, the concept of ‘Islam’ that Tsarnaev supposedly adhered to, and made him believe that he was engaged in ‘God’s business’ was rejected by most of those who knew him – and his co-religionists at the mosque that he attended.
Did Geller and her dimwit bigots notice that Tsarvaev was thrown out of his local mosque because he called out his local Imam for praising Martin Luther King and for telling his listeners it was religiously acceptable to celebrate American national holidays? Or was that just too inconvenient for them?
Muhammed Merah justified his murder spree in Toulouse last year as a response to the war in Afghanistan and acts of violence carried out by ‘the Jews’ in Palestine, and he and the Tsarnaev brothers seem to share a depressingly familiar profile.
There is the same process of ‘Westernization’ accompanied by alienation, cultural ambiguity, guilt and resentment towards their surrounding society; the same sudden re-conversion to a garbled and reactionary politicized notion of Islam and the primeval bin Ladenism of the ‘you killed our people so I can kill yours’ variety; the same search for ‘meaning’ through an essentially narcissistic act of heroic mass murder directed towards fifteen minutes of media notoriety.
And all of it washed down with scraps of religious gibberish that could easily be fitted onto the back of a fag packet, in order to inflict yet another revolting act of random violence on a world that is already saturated with such events.
Beyond the question of personal motivation, the political and strategic ‘logic’ for such acts (assuming that these half-baked ‘holy’ warriors even stopped for long enough to think of one in their rush to martyrdom/stardom) belongs to an old tradition of non-state terrorism that goes beyond al-Qaeda and its various tributaries, namely that civilians who remain indifferent to the wars that their governments are engaged in have no right to neutrality or security.
Was that what the Terror Brothers thought they were doing when decided it would be a good idea to murder and mutilate some marathon runners and their spectators? Did they believe that they were called upon by God to defend Muslims in Afghanistan by killing Americans in Boston? Or was it merely a nihilistic act of revenge with no longer term intentions except to glorify its protagonists – in their own eyes at least?
We may or may not find out some of these answers during Tsarnaev’s trial. In the meantime we must wash down the bitter and disgusting contribution to the seemingly endless tit-for-tat game of terror and counterterror, and reject not just the act itself, but the pseudo-explanations placed upon it by the likes of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and Lindsey Graham, who would – if they could – use the Terror Brothers to make the world even darker than it already is.